Common Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention
Approximately 50-75% of runners encounter an injury each year. This statistic alone probably makes you wonder why people run in the first place! The benefits of running cannot be overemphasized, however. Running is a great way to burn calories, improve heart health, get some fresh air, and relieve stress. It is a favorite pastime for many and it has many positive effects.
But like any exercise, injury can result if you’re not careful. Whether you’re an experienced runner or someone who is just getting into running, you should be aware of some common injuries associated with the sport, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
Knee Pain: “Runner’s knee” can result from over training or increasing mileage too quickly. Muscular imbalances can also cause stress on the knee that are exacerbated by running. Be careful not to increase the amount of running too quickly if you’re new to game. Also incorporate strength-training exercises such as squats to build the quadriceps.
Shin Splints: That pain along the front of your leg between the knee and ankle…it’s hampered runners and basketball players alike. Shin splints can be caused by overuse or biomechanical factors such as overpronation, where your foot excessively rolls inward with each step. Controlling the rate at which you increase your mileage or investing in a pair of motion control or stability shoes can help.
Achilles Tendonitis: This pain along the backside of your ankle is typically caused by a lack of Achilles flexibility and can be made worse by doing a lot of uphill running. Be sure to include stretches for your Achilles tendon in your routine. A good way to do this is to keep your heel flat on the floor (while standing or kneeling), and bend your knee until you feel the stretch below your calf. Support yourself with a wall or chair to avoid putting undue stress on the knee during the stretch.
Plantar Fasciitis: A very sharp pain in the bottom of the foot could be plantar fasciitis. High arches, overpronating, improper footwear, or a tight Achilles tendon can all cause plantar fasciitis. Investing in the right shoe and maintaining adequate flexibility can help prevent the pain.
Running involves the foot, ankle, lower leg, knee, hips, lower back, and core. Injury prevention relies on the proper interaction between each of these body parts. A running injury can not only sideline you from exercise and training, but it can also make walking, stairs, and other activities of daily life very painful.
When treating injuries, start with rest and ice. If injury persists, consult a physician. Remember that pain is typically a late indicator of a bigger issue. Consider seeking a physical therapist or another professional to rule out or address any movement flaws.
With all of the benefits that running provides, you should still be cautious with your approach and methodical in your preparation. You have a better chance of avoiding injury if you maintain proper flexibility and muscular balance, practice good form, invest in the right pair of shoes, be careful of doing too much too fast, and keep your weight under control. Each extra pound of body weight translates into 4 additional pounds of pressure on your knees when you run.
Running is one of the best forms of exercise you can do. It requires very little equipment, you can do it just about anywhere, and the health benefits are unparalleled. So be smart, prepare yourself, put one foot in front of the other, and reap the health benefits!